Three London schoolgirls who fled to Syria are believed to have stolen family jewellery to fund their travel, police said Tuesday as the trio’s relatives expressed disbelief at their actions.
School-friends Kadiza Sultana, 16, and 15-year-olds Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, left their homes last month and flew to Istanbul, from where they are believed to have joined Isis jihadists in Syria.
Giving evidence before parliament’s home affairs committee, Britain’s national police lead on counter-terrorism, Mark Rowley, said the girls paid a travel agent more than £1,000 (RM5,600) for their flights.
Asked where they found the money, he said: “We think it’s linked to theft from families. We think it’s linked to taking jewellery from one of their family members.”
However, family members later said that the girls must have found additional funds elsewhere, as the jewellery that was missing was not of great value.
“We haven’t lost £2000 worth of jewellery,” Shamima’s sister Renu Begum told ITV News.
“I feel there is someone out there helping in terms of funding because there’s no way my sister has got the cash to fund herself,” said Kadiza’s sister Halima Khanom.
“I really hope the police would now make it their business to establish where these funds came from because it clearly wasn’t from home,” added Kadiza’s cousin Fahmida Aziz.
The girls are among 26 British young women who have gone to join Isis fighters in Syria, according to Rowley, who is assistant commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police.
But he said that so far “we have no evidence to suggest they are involved in terrorism”, and they could return home to Britain without facing charges.
Earlier, Abase’s father Hussen Abase told the committee that his daughter was a victim – adding that he believed she had been “terrified”
by police attention following the flight of another
schoolfriend to Syria in December.